Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

The movie adaptation of the video game ‘Hitman’ is landmark in my opinion because I believe that it’s the best video game movie ever made. I’m also of the thought process that this is incredibly faint praise because for whatever reason videogames have had a mighty difficult time in the translation from the gamepad to the multiplex. Not that any of this is going to stop anybody from making videogame based movies as we are to witness today the birth of Marky Mark Wahlberg as ‘Max Payne’, and after watching ‘Max Payne’, ‘Hitman’ is still the best videogame movie ever. And it’s still faint praise.

When we first meet Max Payne, the haggard hard nosed police officer is struggling with life just a little bit. Three years ago some dudes killed his pregnant wife, at least I think she was pregnant since there was baby stuff all over the place and no baby around. Max deep sixed two of those clowns but there was a third one that got away that he’s been relentlessly chasing, cold case style, ever since. Max is also one surly ass dude as he treats thugs and cops that used to be his friends pretty much all the same, including his ex-partner Alex (Donal Logue) who Max is hating on because he doesn’t think Alex did enough to find his wife’s killer.

The only person who seems to be able to tolerate Max is his father’s ex-partner BB Hensley (Beau Bridges) who also happens to be the head of security for the pharmaceutical firm that Max’s wife was employed at as a chemist. BB tries to council Max and keep him out of trouble but Max’s middle name is ‘loose cannon’.

Finally Max thinks he’s caught a break in the case and that’s when all hell breaks loose. It seems everybody who has a lead that Max pursues ends up hacked up into little bits and pieces by what looks to be some kind of winged wildebeest, such as the club hopping hottie Natasha (Olga Kurylenko) who’s sister happens to be gun toting

hitwoman Mona Sax (Mila Kunis), and who is none to pleased that Max was the last dude to see her sister alive. Another alleged break comes when Alex sets up a meeting with Max because he thinks he has a link to what may have really happened to his wife, but we all know what happens to that character who wants to meet someplace with vital info to dispense. Yes we do. Worst still is that the stupid cops think Max may be doing the killing.

Eventually Max figures out exactly what the conspiracy is and how deep it goes, mainly because a yakking evil character tells him in fairly explicit detail what the conspiracy is and how deep it goes. This character also believes in the long drawn out ‘I could kill you now but I must talk forever and dream up an elaborate death for you thus giving you a chance to escape so you can kill me later’ mode of badguyisms. Awesome. Not spoil it for you but Max is going to kill them all. Every last one of ‘em.

I played both Max Payne videogames, and even more surprisingly I actually finished both games, which I rarely do, so I must have liked them. It’s just that it’s been a while so I don’t remember much about them except that it took me forever to figure that final kill death puzzle at the end. Now is this movie faithful to game? Probably not but it’s certainly not necessary for a movie to stay faithful to its source material for the movie to be good. What ‘Max Payne’ is faithless to is a good story that makes any kind of gatdamn sense. I’m pretty sure that this another one of those movies that’s probably going to have a ‘Director’s Cut’ DVD in a couple of years because the story as it is presented here is so jumbled and hackneyed that following along is almost a complete exercise in futility. Max shows up and does stuff with no basis in anything he’s done prior, characters jump in and float out with their only reason for being is to die or spout some worthless nonsense, and the development of any character, including Max Payne, is nonexistent. Thank goodness for the long winded talking bad guy. Except for Beau Bridges the acting wasn’t much to write home about. Wahlberg wasn’t bad as Max but his character certainly didn’t endear himself to an audience in any kind of way. Mila Kunis is hot and all but a tough talking hitwoman? I don’t know. Black Leather can only take you so far though admittedly Ms. Kunis and Ms. Kurylenko probably comprise the hottest pair of movie sisters of ALL TIME! And I like Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges plenty in ‘Crash’ but again, he’s probably miscast worst than Mila Kunis in his role as IA police officer Jim Bravura.

The first… I don’t know, hour of the movie is pretty slow and since the dialog is stilted and narrative poorly presented it’s a struggle to get through but then… the action kicks in. And believe me it’s some of the best I’ve seen. There was a scene where Marky Mark comes out of the darkness with gun-a-blazin’ that I had to say out loud, ‘now that’s cool’. Director John Moore also made the most out of his THX surround sound as every bullet and every crash and every smash had that extra oomph that shook the entire theater. Awesome.

Unfortunately thirty minutes of great action, some truly outstanding visuals and sound and a long winded talking killer do little to make for a crappy story, suspect performances and a good hour of total tedium. Here’s us looking forward to the ‘Director’s Cut’ because I’ll bet my last bottom dollar that this isn’t the movie director John Moore wanted us to see.

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